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Why Participate in a Math Competition



Most students interested in pursuing a career in STEM understand that a strong grasp of mathematics is necessary to realize their college and early career dreams. But when confronted with a fierce competitive pool of talented individuals, how does one stand out? Math competitions offer an avenue to help highlight talent in a challenging, fun, and structured environment.


Competing in math competitions is one of many ways to demonstrate a student’s intellectual capacity and commitment to the field. Through practice and preparation, students will further strengthen their math skills, which will enhance their grades, AP exams, and standardized test scores. Students will also be able to develop important computational and critical thinking skills that will be valuable throughout their lives.


Since nearly all math competitions are team oriented, they provide a great sense of camaraderie as students collectively prepare to compete. Team competitions also provide ample opportunities to develop and hone leadership skills, an important quality highly valued by selective colleges and universities. Additionally, because many take place at a centralized location, math competitions can serve as exciting social events that will help shape students’ young adulthood.


We compiled a comprehensive list of math competitions in the nation and here in Southern California. Take a closer look and see which ones pique your interest.

American Mathematics Competitions AMC 10/12


AMC consists of 25 multiple choice questions to be completed within 75 minutes. They are administered at the end of January or beginning of February each year and cover advanced course material appropriate to the students’ corresponding grade level. For students who perform exceptionally well on the AMC 10/12, they are invited to continue participating in the AMC series of examinations that culminate with the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).

  • Grades Allowed: Students in 10th grade and below are eligible for the AMC 10. Students in 12th grade or below are eligible for the AMC 12.

  • Level: Local, State, National

  • Registration Deadline: A December 2nd, B January 3rd

  • Event Schedule: End of January or beginning of February each year

American Invitational Mathematics Examination AIME


This series of exams are proctored by the Mathematical Association of American and falls squarely between the American Mathematics Competitions (AMC) 10 or 12, and the United States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO). The AIME is a three-hour exam composed of 15 questions. It is by invitation only and only open to students who have already achieved a score of 100 or higher or were in the top 5% on the AMC 12, or students who scored a 120 or above or were in the top 2.5% on the AMC 10.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th by invitation only.

  • Level: State, National

  • Registration Deadline: Invitation Only

  • Event Schedule: Early March

USA Mathematical Olympiad and Junior Mathematical Olympiad USAMO/USAJMO


The United States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) and the United States of America Junior Mathematical Olympiad (USAJMO) are six question, two day, 9-hour essay/proof examinations. The top scoring AMC 12 participants (based on a combination of AMC 12 and AIME score) are invited to take the USAMO. The top scoring AMC 10 participants (based on a combination of AMC 10 and AIME score) are invited to take the USAJMO.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th by invitation only.

  • Level: National

  • Registration Deadline: Invitation Only

  • Event Schedule: April

International Mathematical Olympiad IMO


The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the World Championship Mathematics Competition for High School students and is held annually in a different country. The top participants from the USA(J)MO are invited to the Mathematical Olympiad Program in the summer after the competition. Participants from the Mathematical Olympiad Program are then eligible to be selected for the following summer’s six-member team that will represent the United States of America at the IMO.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th by invitation only.

  • Level: International

  • Registration Deadline: Invitation Only

  • Event Schedule: July

American Regions Math League (ARML)


The American Regions Math League competition is held in person. Teams of 15 students gather to participate in a team round, a power question (in which a team solves proof-oriented questions), an individual round, two relay rounds, and a super relay.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

  • Level: Local, Regional, State, National.

  • Registration Deadline: Mid-May

  • Event Schedule: May/June

Math League


Math League supports over one million students from elementary to high school to participate in contests each year. High school contests are proctored six times per year and students compete both as individuals and as teams. Exercises draw on the knowledge and practice of the following: geometry, algebra, trigonometry, logarithms, series, sequences, exponents, roots, integers, real numbers, combinations, probability, coordinate geometry, and more.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

  • Level: Local, State, National.

  • Registration Deadline: Late September

  • Event Schedule: Once a month (October - March)

Harvard/MIT Mathematics Tournament HMMT


A joint competition organized by Harvard and MIT, this tournament features social events alongside one of the most prestigious math contests in the country. Each tournament draws close to 1000 students from around the globe, including top scorers at national and international olympiads. Student teams compete in multiple rounds which include individual tests, a team round, and the guts round during a weekend long competition held in Boston twice a year. The February competition is one of the most difficult math competitions in the United States. HMMT is entirely student-organized, by students at Harvard, MIT, and nearby schools, many of whom are HMMT alumni themselves.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th.

  • Level: International

  • Registration Deadline: September

  • Event Schedule: February and November

MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge


The M3 Challenge is a contest for high school juniors and seniors. The challenge will give students the experience of what it’s like to work as a team to tackle a real-world problems under time and resource constraints. The problems will be modeled after those faced by professional mathematicians working in the industry. The Challenge awards $100,000 in scholarships and is entirely Internet-based with no registration or participation fees.

  • Grades Allowed: 11th, 12th

  • Level: Local, National

  • Registration Deadline: November

  • Event Schedule: March/April

Mandelbrot Competition


The Mandelbrot Competition is composed of a short answer format and is delivered in five rounds spread throughout the school year. The contest emphasizes creative mathematical thinking and aims to “engage students with only a modest background while still stretching the most advanced students.” Each round consists of seven short-answer questions that are awarded points based on difficulty.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

  • Level: Regional and National.

  • Registration Deadline: Late September

  • Schedule: October - March

Caribou Mathematics Competition


The Caribou Mathematics Competition is unique in that competitors span the globe. Testing takes place online and is offered in three languages: English, French, and Persian. This global examination is held six times a year, and students who take all exams qualify for consideration in the Caribou Cup.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

  • Level: Local, State, National

  • Registration Deadline: Early May

  • Event Schedule: January - May, November

Association of Computational and Mathematical Modeling AoCMM


The AoCMM math modeling competition for high school and college students provides the opportunity to use your skills in math modeling in a friendly competitive environment. Participants from any country under the age of 20 years old are eligible.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

  • Level: Local, National, International

  • Registration Deadline: Check Website

  • Event Schedule: Variable

National Society of Professional Surveyors TrigStar Program Contest


The TrigStar Program Contest is an annual high school mathematics competition sponsored by the National Society of Professional Surveyors based on the practical application of trigonometry. The program recognizes the best students from high schools throughout the nation.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

  • Levels: Local, National.

  • Registration Deadline: Variable

  • Event Schedule: Variable

Who Wants to Be a Mathematician


Who Wants to Be a Mathematician is a game in which high school students compete for cash and prizes by answering multiple choice mathematics questions.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

  • Levels: Regional, National

  • Registration Deadline: Variable

  • Event Schedule: Year-round

The American Scholastic Mathematics Association


The American Scholastic Mathematics Association provides students with the opportunity to compete nationally. The competition consists of six 35-minute contests, each with seven questions.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

  • Levels: Regional, National, International

  • Registration Deadline: Variable

  • Event Schedule: October - March

Fall Startup Event by National Assessment & Testing Competitions


This 100-problem, 30-minute competition is a fast-paced test of a student's familiarity with basic math team skills, designed to motivate your team early in the year and help you assess its readiness.

  • Grades Allowed: Elementary, Middle, High School

  • Levels: National

  • Registration Deadline: Variable

  • Event Schedule: September - January

Bay Math League


Bay Math League meets on Wednesdays four times during the school year. It is a competition between students from approximately 12 local high schools. Participants leave after fifth period and travel by bus to the host high school.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

  • Levels: Southern California

  • Registration Deadline: Variable

  • Event Schedule: Wednesdays four times during the school year

Math Day at the Beach


This problem solving competition for Southern California high school students is held on a Saturday in March at CSULB. The main part of the event is a 15 question multiple-choice test and a 5 question free-response section, both of which focus on creative problem solving. Questions are selected from algebra, geometry, trigonometry, number theory, combinatorics, probability, and statistics. There is also a 6-person team round as well as an oral Face-Off round that determines the individual winners. Prizes are awarded to the top individuals and teams. Calculators are not allowed.

  • Grades Allowed: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

  • Levels: Southern California

  • Registration Deadline: Variable

  • Event Schedule: March

How to Find the Best Math Competitions for You


Find out what you can from a trusted math teacher or tutor to decide which competitions are best suited for you. You will need to consider your particular strengths, skill sets, as well as your schedule when deciding which competitions would be worth your time and dedication.


Other considerations should include the feasibility of travel or team availability. Most of these competitions require team participation. If your school has a well-developed math team, you will have a list of competitions that the team regularly participates in as well as resources to draw from.


If, however, your school doesn’t have a math team for the competition you would like to participate, you will need to take the initiative to find like-minded peers to form a team. This is a great opportunity to develop your leadership skills as well as demonstrate your commitment to math. Our math tutors and teachers are available to guide you through the process. Some competitions such as the Harvard/MIT Mathematics Tournament HMMT may also help you connect with students near you.

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